GREE, a leading mobile social gaming company in Japan, has just announced a partnership with SingTel to distribute its games in Singapore. In addition, SingTel will offer direct carrier billing for these titles. This sort of partnership is a first for GREE outside Japan.
The deal makes a lot of sense for both companies.
SingTel, as one of the largest telcos in the world, holds the key to the rest of Asia. It has 462 million mobile users as of last year, spread out across 8 countries, including Philippines, Indonesia, and Australia. It owns, or partially owns, a telco in each of these markets.
GREE, which has ambitions to become a prominent mobile social games entity outside of Japan, it is certainly motivated to make its Singapore partnership work. The choice of Singapore as a test market is a curious one, as Willis Wee from TechinAsia points out, since it only has 5 million inhabitants.
But according to a GREE spokesperson, Singapore has ubiquitous smartphone penetration and high average revenue per user (ARPU), due to their willingness to purchase digital content.
I must also note that GREE’s recent push into HTML5 games ties in well with its SingTel partnership, due to the diversity of mobile phone ecosystems in the region.
Countries that SingTel has a presence in vary not just in terms of smartphone penetration, but also the type of smartphones used by residents. Compared to developing markets, where Android and feature phones dominate, iPhone penetration is considerably higher in countries like Singapore and Australia.
From SingTel’s perspective, the GREE partnership is another feather in its cap. Two of GREE’s most popular games, Ceberus and Be My Princess, will be added to SingTel’s vast ecosystem of native and partner apps and services.
At the SingTel i.luminate 2012 conference I attended recently, the company wasn’t shy about its grandiose ambitions of becoming the leading “ICT” provider in Asia. In a surreal Steve Jobian moment, Bill Chang, SingTel Group ICT CEO, even pointed to the LCD screen behind him and said how it’s one of the largest in the world.
SingTel is not just entering into the consumer digital space: the telco is building an ecosystem of services that encompasses healthcare, logistics, security, government, mobile payments, and education.
Be it in the enterprise or consumer sector, SingTel’s market positioning is the same: It wants to be the all-in-one provider for all your digital needs.
So, by adding GREE to its ecosystem (we can certainly expect more games to be released), SingTel is giving its huge subscriber base less reason to leave its fences.
Even in spite of its spotty 3G network.